Finally we made it on a train to Nha Trang, departing from Ho Chi Minh City. Having not seen a beach in a couple of months, we were desperately excited to strip off into our swimwear. From the train station, we caught a taxi to the main center and decided to walk around and look for a room.
As if by magic, a man driving around on a motorbike, who clearly heard our prayers, handed us a business card for ‘Nice Hotel’ and encouraged us to have a look. Despite our skepticism, we gave the guy a chance and low and behold, the hotel was perfect. For $10 a night, we were given a large bedroom with two double beds, a TV, air conditioning, a fridge, WIFI and clean towels! For an extra $3 we got all our laundry done. I’d recommend Nice Hotel in a heartbeat… although from what I hear the rooms do vary quite significantly so maybe have a look at a couple if you’re not happy with the first one. Our bathroom was shared with the whole floor but it was fine for us at the time as very few people were staying there.
Nha Trang is famous for its perfect long, white sand beaches, and it attracts a high number of tourists, particularly Russians. In fact, I was surprised just how much everything in Nha Trang is targeted at Russians. The tour guides spoke fluent Russian; restaurant menus were primarily in Russian and in some places we had to request an English menu; many of the clothes shops sold stereotypical Russian leather/suede skirts, hats, bags and tops; some Vietnamese bar promoters tried to entice us into their venue by speaking to us in Russian and handing out Russian flyers. Yep, there’s a lot of Russian influence in Nha Trang.
It may come as no surprise to hear that there is much more to see and do in Nha Trang than sunbathe. The heat here can be truly exhausting, so it’s pretty handy that there are some great scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities amidst the coral reef or for that less active, there’s an opportunity to hire a glass-bottom boat. Away from the sea, the hot springs with their relaxing mud baths are a popular attraction, though it can sometimes get a little overcrowded.
Something else to note is that there are a number of resorts in Nha Trang. We were really attracted to the cable car which crossed the sea to an island. Thinking this was going to be another beach area without having researched it, we paid the $25 (!!!) to get on the cable car, which we only paid because of the effort we made to actually get there.
After gliding 3000+ metres to this mysterious island, it was pretty disappointing that it was in fact, a theme park kind of resort, with a man-made beach for kids, and water slides full of kids. It was pretty nice to sunbathe on the soft, fake white sand, and the walk around was pretty fun, but I have to say that if you don’t make it there, you’re not missing out much.
Whilst on the Disney-land style beach, we could see a pretty hefty storm brewing across the horizon, and before we could get to the exit, the heavens opened, and the sky recurrently flashed white over and over again, leaving us crouched under limited shelter with several other. By the time we reached the cable car, the queue was colossal stretching and bending with no shelter from the hard, painful rain. So instead, we got some chips and waited over an hour for the storm to pass.
When we got back to Nha Trang town, it was already dark. Before getting dinner, we wanted to get showered and changed, so headed to our hotel. Typical Vietnam style, the streets were completely flooded and we waded knee-deep in water to our hotel.
Nha Trang turned out to be an alright night out, although all the bars are your typical southeast Asia backpacker style bars, usually ‘Aussie’-themed with big screens. It wasn’t much to write home about but the vibe was pretty nice. I wouldn’t rush back to NT simply because I think there are much nicer places in Vietnam, with so much more culture, though I wouldn’t rule out a return trip purely because of how beautiful the beaches were.
– When we decided to venture to the other island, we were at Nha Trang beach and thought we could walk to it. After 20 minutes walking across the long stretch of sand in the blazing heat, we decided to get a taxi, which took over 5 minutes to get to. So, just a heads up to be aware of the optical illusion in case you’re thinking of walking to it… it’s further than it looks!
– There are also many other little islands that you can get a boat trip to, including Monkey Island, but most of them are just resorts and often a little expensive to get to.